Source: The Washington Post | March 31, 2022
“It will lead to better outcomes for trafficking victims, improve resiliency for survivors, and ensure our justice system is focused on true offenders and not on victims,” Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City), the bill’s longtime champion, testified Tuesday before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Between 2010 and 2020, 110 youths were arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice in the state, according to the University of Maryland SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors. Thirty-three of those arrested were 15 or younger.
“Our laws are not compatible with the way brainwashing and trauma occurs,” said Amelia Rubenstein, who oversees direct services at the SAFE Center. “For teenagers, especially, the process of recognizing there is exploitation going on can take years.” Instead, Rubenstein said, it will be up to the police officers, public defenders, prosecutors, social workers and judges to recognize when a minor might qualify for safe harbor protection. The bill comes with no funding to train those groups about how the law should work.